An American pastor Andrew Brunson, whose detention caused a diplomatic crisis between united states and Turkey, left on a US military flight bound for Germany on Friday.
Brunson was accused of spying and aiding a coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he was sentenced to 3 years 1 month 15 days in prison.
The pastor prolonged detention and trial had worsened tensions between the United States and Turkey. President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence personally raised his case several times with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. The United States government imposed financial sanctions. And members of Congress traveled to Turkey to attend his trial.
A Turkish court on Friday sentenced Brunson to three years and one month in prison, but chose to release him based on his time already served for two years, as well as his manner during the proceedings, his lawyer said.
Brunson, 50, was arrested in 2016 as part of the government crackdown in the wake of a failed coup bid. He has been under house arrest since July.
Prosecutors were seeking a 10-year jail term. After the court decision, Brunson travelled to his home and then left for the airport in Izmir province with his wife Norrine.
“This is the day our family has been praying for – I am delighted to be on my way home to the United States,” Brunson said in a statement after his release.
After the pastor’s release, Mr. Trump invited him to come to the White House as early as Saturday. “We’re very honored to have him back here with us,” the president told reporters in Ohio, where he was traveling for a campaign rally. “He suffered greatly.”